Thursday, October 9, 2008

Avian Awareness Training

Did you ever wonder who or what might be staying in the room next door at your hotel? I'll bet you never imagined that it might be a few hawks, a couple of owls, and a crow! Well, that is exactly what was spending the night in southern New Mexico hotel earlier this week. You can see the tons of sheets and towels covering the area surrounding the ferruginous and Swainson's hawk that night.

Gail Garber and Kristin Madden traveled to Artesia with a vanload of birds to participate in an avian protection training session for utility workers. What a wonderful event it was! All 6 birds were perched around the room for the duration of the session. The crow happily accepted grapes and hard-boiled egg from one gentleman. Our Swainson's hawk captivated everyone at the end of the program when she caught mice tossed by another gentleman and chowed them down right in front of everyone.

The linemen that attended the session were wonderful. They were all interested in meeting the birds and learning more about compliance with the laws and the development of avian protection plans. A few myths were dispelled and everyone had a great sense of humor. In spite of the dry nature of some of the topics covered that day, the faces of the audience lit up when we talked about the birds and shared something about their individual personalities.

After a delicious lunch at a restaurant that was clearly a local favorite, Gail & Kristin headed home. Pulling into Albuquerque around 6:20 p.m., they congratulated each other on arriving home early enough to put birds back in their mews (raptor cage) before dark. They obviously spoke far too soon. What they encountered was one of the worst traffic jams they could remember. Finally, arriving at an exit, they ditched the freeway and south another way across the river. Every crossing was packed! Neither of them arrived home before 8 p.m. It was a very long day.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Indigo the American Crow

Indigo is the newest addition to the Hawks Aloft family of education ambassadors. Found in Oregon as a youngster, she was kept as a pet indoors. We assume that her rescuers, who cared for her very much, were not aware that it is illegal to keep a crow without the appropriate permits. When her rescuers needed to move, they turned her in to the Cascades Raptor Center. So the little beauty grew up with nearly constant human contact. As you can imagine, she is a human imprint. When she arrived, she was afraid to be outside, particularly after dark, and was terrified of anything flying near her.

Indigo has an immediate and very humorous reaction to being in the sun. She starts by fluffing out all the feathers on her neck. Then one wing comes out and her head drops to one shoulder. She opens her mouth and looks as if she is about to pass out. It doesn’t matter if she is outside in the heat or sitting near a window in the air-conditioned Hawks Aloft office.

One thing that Indigo absolutely loves is a good bath. Here you can see her during bath time at the Hawks Aloft office. She does look a little like a drenched cat, doesn't she? You can see right into her ears when she's wet. Of course, she doesn't care how she looks. Bath time is her favorite game and she will dive back in over and over until the whole area is soaked and her bowl is empty. It is obviously great fun!

Indigo is a beautiful, engaging bird. In her short time with us, she has already captivated her fair share of utility workers and children, eliminating many negative beliefs regarding crows. As you can tell, she is quite the character, so you can expect us to post more amusing stories about her.